Here Are “The Best Arm Workouts For Size, Strength, Beginners, And More”

A pair of big arms can do a lot more for you than just grabbing attention at the beach. From bear hugs to bench press competitions, your biceps and triceps are involved in almost everything you do in and out of the gym. 

While some will puff their chests and declare that they built their arms with pull-ups, presses, or — somehow — squatting, most lifters who have been in the game awhile will concede that if you want big arms, you have to train for big arms. Strong and defined arms do a whole lot more for your fitness than you might think.

The question then becomes how to go about it. Whether you want to bench better or rip the seams on all your shirts, when it comes to arm workouts, we’ve got you covered.

Best Arm Workouts

Note: The notation prescribed in these routines is (sets) x (reps).

Best Arm Workout for Size

When it comes to bodybuilding, if you were to ask five of the most successful competitors ever how they built their arms, you’d probably get five different — but valid — answers. Arnold himself was infamous for his grueling, superset-heavy high-volume biceps and triceps training. Dorian Yates, however, believed in pushing intensity as high as possible for fewer total sets.

Naturally, the best line to walk is probably straight down the middle. Whether it is your triceps or trapezius, the tenets of muscle growth are mostly the same. Train hard (but not too hard), pick the right exercises, and, most importantly, fuel your body well.

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The Workout

Since your arms have supporting roles in basically all upper body training, direct arm sessions needn’t be performed with extremely high frequency. Extra sessions might be helpful if you’re a particularly advanced trainee, but be sure to modulate your training volume accordingly.

These exercise selections are well-rounded suggestions, but remember that bodybuilding is highly individual. If you struggle to elicit a good contraction with an exercise, don’t force a square peg into a round hole. Substituting exercises that don’t serve you well can potentially spare you injury and keep you on the fast track to progress.

Training Tip: The exercise order is intentional. Performing biceps exercises first will also serve as an effective warm-up for the elbow joint, so you’re ready for the extension-heavy triceps training that follows.

Best Arm Workout for Strength

If you’re more inclined towards pushing your limits with the barbell, direct arm work still merits a place in your routine. From a powerlifter’s bench press to a strongman’s Atlas stone lift, the arms play a critical role in strength sports.

The two main factors when integrating arm work into a strength routine are 1) the exercises should complement your primary lifts or activities, and 2) the training should not hamper your performance elsewhere. As such, perform this workout on its own day or after your primary training, and don’t be afraid to adjust volume as needed.

Training Tip: Since the goal of the session isn’t maximal fatigue, exercises are alternated. This will allow more rest time between flexion and extension movements, allowing for greater force output that should translate to your main lifts. Plate pinches are included to double-dip forearm work and grip training.

Best Arm Workout for Beginners

If you’re just getting started in the gym, you have a lot more going for you than you might think. Between rapid gains in strength, hypertrophy, work capacity, or even flexibility, your first few years of training are an embarrassment of riches.

That said, making the most of it is what matters. If you want your guns to be the most impressive part of your physique arsenal, a well-calibrated arm workout is your best friend in the weight room.

The Workout

For exercise newbies, one of the best things about your training “economy” is your rate of return. In simple terms, this means that first-timers can get a lot out of a little. More volume and intensity will be required with more years of training under your lifting belt, but beginner programs should be lean and mean.

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